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Israel-Saudi normalization requires concessions for Palestinians

Diplomatic sources estimate that the chances of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepting Saudi normalization conditions, such as a settlement freeze or more Muslim autonomy on the Temple Mount, are close to nil.
An Israeli border guard intervenes as participants of an Israeli annual far-right, flag-waving rally, beat Palestinian men during the event in the Old City of Jerusalem, on May 18, 2023. Jerusalem police and residents were bracing for extremist ministers and their supporters to rally today in an annual flag-waving march commemorating Israel's capture of the Old City. Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel annexed east Jerusalem and its Old City in a move never recognised by the international community. (Pho

TEL AVIV — US-mediated talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia on normalization are indeed ongoing, but Israel will have to pay a real price in terms of concessions to the Palestinians for such a move to take place, a senior Israeli official told Al-Monitor this week.

The same optimistic-yet-pessimistic assessment was also expressed on Sunday by a senior US official, who spoke with Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.

"The desire exists; the administration understands that an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia will serve the interests of all sides and also the interests of the Middle East. There were many difficulties between the Biden administration and the Saudi leadership, but at this moment it seems to me that the sides have overcome this and there is an aspiration to try to bring about this historic agreement that will change the face of the Middle East," the official said.

At the same time, the official clarified that talks on such a move are in the initial stages, and while prospects exist of a breakthrough, they are not high and it is too soon to celebrate.

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